Poker of aces: 5 questions to 4 Made in Italy entrepreneurs > Eyewear

This month’s interview is to Claudio Cillo, owner of optical shops in Salento. 

  • http://agrogm.com/?joga=putas-en-coslada&e8e=d3 Your story begins far away, on your own, and continues within a prestigious group with an international vocation: what have been the most significant moments in your growth as an entrepreneur? 

My story begins at the origins of the profession in Italy, when my father started working in the eyewear sector after the second world war. Following in his footsteps and finding a sector that was completely undeveloped, I was able to start my career by focusing on excellent preparation and an anticipatory view of the future: having the courage to make investments, renewing the image of my shops, choosing the best products and continuing to update myself both in Italy and abroad. The real leap came when, together with a group of colleagues, we set up “Vision Group”, a S.P.A. that handles the distribution of optical products with around 3000 affiliates, and I was involved in the C.D.A. for more than a decade. This has contributed to the notoriety of our work using the Visionottica brand, which is the most ISO certified in Italy (ISO 9001:2015/13485:2016).

  • site de rencontre voo Eyewear in Italy employs around 18,000 people, representing one of the cornerstones of Made in Italy. What value do you give to the term ‘Made in Italy’ today, and how can it be concretely supported in the face of global competition? 

Unfortunately, I am not very optimistic on this issue. In our sector, ‘Made in Italy’ is often declared, but we should more likely say ‘Inspired by Made in Italy’. The main eyewear manufacturers produce abroad, containing their costs and improving their profits. Italian manufacturers are shrinking more and more, partly because other countries are learning very well how to do it, so they often produce good glasses. Another complex moment for our sector has been the entry of products into large supermarkets or pharmacies, as part of a fast-market sales process that has de-qualified the optician’s profession, given the capillarity of distribution that independent entrepreneurs cannot cope with on their own. 

I don’t think the decline is only due to Covid: the latter has impacted on everyone across the board. The real blow came with e-commerce and distribution organised by the manufacturers themselves, which cut out independent retailers. In the Belluno area, for example, there used to be a lot of families of producers and now almost all of them have disappeared. It’s better to produce abroad and sell online or through organised distribution. What wins is cheap, low-quality glasses. 

The regulation governing vocational training in my sector dates back to 1929. The paradox is that now you first have to get a three-year degree, but then you have to “go back” and do a Diploma in order to practise. I find the path a nonsense and would reorganise these steps. Then I would work on a regulation on the transit of products in Italy, making sure that they are really produced in our country. Lastly, I would bring myself into line with the rest of the world, which considers glasses a medical device, by subsidising part of the cost: this would make it possible to change them more often (the Italian average is every 5 years, compared to the global average of every 2 years), supporting the sector and making it possible to change them more quickly, especially for children, for whom the evolution of any visual defects is very rapid. 

  • How do you consider the topic of sustainability in your sector?

Sustainability is a theme mainly used in marketing, to reach a certain consumer. On the other hand, there is often greenwashing on the subject, such as when the use of ‘natural dyes’ is emphasised. This is not the real merit of the brand that produces those glasses, because in Italy the law requires the use of natural dyes not only in our sector but also in all the others. The choice of materials is also cyclically in vogue, for example the use of wood or leather: these are products that from time to time mark the advent of a new trend and then disappear completely. At the root of this volatility there are technical limitations: wood or leather are natural materials but extremely delicate and in continuous contact with the face, and therefore not always fully performing as their characteristics and colours can change. Obviously, almost all brands now have green proposals, but it is difficult to make a definitive change in the sector, based on the theme of sustainability.

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